In the Garden:
Beautiful oleander can be used as a hedge or as a container plant depending on the variety you choose.
Summer Flower Power
Many gardens (and gardeners) burn out in our summer heat. Spring-planted annuals bloom their brains out and then by midsummer go to seed. Perennials often succumb to drought, flooding, or insects and disease. However, there are at least three shrubs and trees that never fail to offer summer flowers for months, no matter what the weather.
Oleander is my first love for coastal gardens. Oleander is unbeatable for nonstop flowering. It never needs deadheading, and its varieties range in size from huge hedgerows to container plants. However, all its parts are poisonous, so teach your kids, to look and enjoy, but don't eat!
The oleander's flower show is outstanding all summer. Flower colors include red, pink, white, and shades of salmon, many with an intoxicating fragrance. To get established, oleander needs only regular water for a few months--then it's on its own. It is drought, salt, heat, and wind tolerant and, with a little pruning and annual fertilizing, will flower for years.
Cool Blue Plumbago
Plumbago capensis cannot be categorized in typical ways. It's a herbacious perennial that sends up new growth each spring and after pruning, yet its growth is woody like that of a shrub. It has a sprawling habit and can be trained up a wall, yet it isn't truly a vining plant.
Whatever you call it, grow plumbago for its hundreds of pinwheel-shaped, dime-sized, soft blue flowers and soft textured light green leaves. For example, use plumbago to fill out a bed around your mailbox and tie the runners up the post for a climbing look. Fertilize plants in spring and midsummer. White-flowered varieties are also available, but I like the coolness the blue flowers bring to the hot summer landscape.
The Latest Crape Myrtle
These are not your mother's crape myrtles. Although many classic trees still thrive in our region, newer varieties with better disease resistance are the best choices. Many of these new varieties are easy to identify by their Native American tribal names, such as Cherokee and Shawnee.
Crape myrtle comes in many varieties and many sizes. Choose a variety that fits your space. Deadhead the flowers by cutting off the blooms, and the two tiny leaves at their base, when they fade. More flowers will appear in a month.
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